Conference play got underway and nobody made a bigger statement than preseason favorite Nevada, who went 2-0 with wins on the road at Idaho and UtahState, the latter snapping the Aggies’ 33-game home conference win streak. New Mexico State hit the road and came away with a win while Hawai’i protected home court against San Jose State to join the ranks of the conference unbeaten.
Deonte Burton's Latest Exploits Include a Stunning 51-Point Effort On The Road.
Nevada (12-3, 2-0): The Wolf Pack have won nine in a row, but it’s the latest victory that has the rest of the conference buzzing. Nevada’s opening road sweep over Idaho (73-55) and Utah State (78-71) saw point guard Deonte Burton score 51 points on 19-32 shooting including seven three pointers, the final three being a dagger-to-the-heart trey in which he was also fouled in the act. His four-point play sealed USU’s fate and a 2-0 league start for Nevada. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, the Wolf Pack starters combined to scored 134 of their 151 points on the weekend. Eventually that lack of bench production will catch up with them. Read the rest of this entry »
The WAC finished off non-conference play with a few near-misses. Utah State lost by two, 66-64, at Mississippi State, Hawai’i was unable to overtake UNLV, falling 74-69, Idaho came up just short against Boise State, 76-73, but Fresno State extracted some revenge for the conference, shellacking the Broncos 72-59 in Fresno.
Meanwhile New Mexico State needed a miracle to overcome Cal State-Bakersfield 73-72. In the game, NMSU lived out a “Butler over Pitt” scenario, giving up a go-ahead free throw with 2.4 seconds to go, but got fouled on the ensuing possession with 0.9 seconds left and hit a pair of free throws to escape with a win. The WAC heads into conference play as the 16th-best conference as rated by the RPI and a 56-50 record in the non-conference.
Utah State Fell By Just Two To An Improved Mississippi State Squad, But Enters WAC Play With Confidence. (Rogelio V. Solis/AP)
Nevada (10-3): The preseason pick to win the WAC heads into league play with the best record in the non-conference portion of play but has not played since December 28. The Wolf Pack open up league play on the road at Idaho and Utah State and a pair of victories to open league play there would definitely put them in the early driver’s seat. Why they won’t win the WAC: Lack of depth. The starters for Nevada score 82.8 percent of their points (56.4 of 68.1). Conference play is a grind and the Wolf Pack starters may eventually succumb to the wear and tear of the pressure of having to produce night in and night out with no scoring help from the bench. Read the rest of this entry »
Hawai’i picked up the league’s best non-conference win of the season knocking off No. 14 Xavier (albeit a slightly shorthanded Musketeer squad) in the Diamond Head Classic en-route to a 2-1 finish in their home tournament. New Mexico State got thumped by in-state rival New Mexico at home and Utah State had a relatively easy time in its home tournament.
Zane Johnson Led Hawaii Over Xavier Before Falling To Auburn In The Diamond Head Classic. (AP/Marco Garcia)
Nevada (10-3): The Wolf Pack avoided a Cedarville trap game and has eight days off to rest before starting WAC play. The Wolf Pack have the best record in non-conference play and boast the best defense in the league allowing just 0.91 points per possession. Nevada continues to get it done with seemingly little help from the bench in terms of scoring production. That’s something that could hurt them down the road when the rigors of conference play and WAC travel start to take their toll. One thing in the Wolf Pack’s favor is the conference schedule. They’ll get the Idaho/Utah State and New Mexico State/Louisiana Tech road trips out of the way in the first half of the league schedule.
Hawai’i (7-5): The Warriors vault into the number two spot thanks in large part to a solid showing at the Diamond Head Classic where Hawai’i won two out of three: a 65-62 loss to Auburn, an 84-82 overtime victory over 14th ranked Xavier and finally a 75-68 win versus Clemson. In the latter contest, Zane Johnson regained his accuracy and finished with 27 points, bolstered by going 6-12 long distance shooting and center Vander Joaquim produced a 14/10 double-double. UH shot 49% overall and committed just 12 turnovers. It was forward Joston Thomas scoring 26 points and Joaquim scoring 20 in the win over Xavier. Last year’s strong performance in the DHC set the Warriors up for a better-than-expected conference season and their 2-1 record this year could be the catalyst for a strong run through the WAC again. Read the rest of this entry »
Another mixed bag for the WAC as Nevada posted a win at Montana 70-64, Idaho won at Oregon State 74-60, New Mexico State lost at UTEP 73-69, and Utah State lost at Wichita State 83-76. The WAC is 38-38 overall as the conference is just under three weeks away from starting conference play.
Stew Morrill's Aggies Have Struggled In Transition From Their Memorable 2010-11 Campaign.
Nevada (7-3): Don’t look now but the Wolf Pack are on a roll having won four in a row and seven of their last eight. Deonte Burton has led the Pack in scoring in the past three games with outbursts of 31, 28, and 21. The Wolf Pack are making the “winning plays” down the stretch, according to head coach David Carter, and shooting percentages of 44% and 53.6% in the last two second halves attest to that.
Idaho (6-4): The Vandals are starting to find themselves as well having won three of their last four with the loss coming by just a bucket against Washington State. DeremyGeiger‘s 27 point against Oregon State and Stephen Madison‘s 17 points against Seattle led to a pair of road victories for Idaho. The two wins have seen Idaho shoot 15-of-29 (51.7%) from behind the three-point arc. Read the rest of this entry »
See bottom of the post for the Official RTC Star System.
It’s “avoid any more bad losses on your tournament résumé” week in the Pac-12. Tonight we get Oregon State against Illinois-Chicago in Corvallis, and on Wednesday Eastern Washingtonwill travel to UCLA. Here’s a quick look at both games.
Illinois-Chicago @ Oregon State – Tuesday, 7:00 PM PST on ROOT Sports NW (*)
Junior guard Daniel Barnes is the Flames' second leading scorer with 9.8 PPG. (credit: Michigan Exposures)
This one should be simple; Oregon State is talented and UIC is terrible, right? It’s true, but these are excactly the types of games the Beavers lose year in and year out. In fact, UIC beat Oregon State two years ago in Chicago, and that Flames team was worse than they are now. UIC will need to shoot the three well to stay in this one, so look for Daniel Barnes and Gary Talton as the main targets of a tenacious Oregon State defense. They could both go for 25 in this one and the Beavers should still win this one, that’s how bad the pieces around Barnes and Talton are. If they are to steal the win, they will need to hit these shots so they can set up some sort of zone against the Beaver offense. Expect them to follow Idaho’s game plan and deploy a 1-2-2 zone at times, especially if the Beavers aren’t shooting well. If the small UIC players can manage to rebound with four players in the paint, this will severely limit the OSU offensive possesions and keep the Flames close.
This one should be close for the first ten minutes or so, but after that I see Oregon State running away, literally. The Beavers are just too fast, strong, and talented for the Flames, and they should be able to win by just reaching 60 points. I think the Beavs hit 80 and roll for a 83-62 win.
The Lede. Picked by almost all preseason pundits as a lock to make the NCAA Tournament, Washington finds itself at .500 through eight games. There was the embarrassing double-figure loss at Saint Louis, an overtime heartbreaker at Nevada, and some questionable coaching at the end of the Jimmy V Classic against Marquette. Now the Huskies are on the wrong side of the bubble and slipping fast. In order for the Dawgs to get back into the NCAA picture, blowout victories in their final three nonconference games (UC Santa Barbara, South Dakota State, and Cal State Northridge) are vital, and 12 or 13 wins in the Pac-12 will also be necessary.
Washington's Run Against Duke Came a Bit Too Late Saturday
For the sake of comparison, and because I have a degree in Bracketology, here’s a look at Washington’s current résumé compared to the three other teams that I have on the wrong side of the bubble:
Quality Wins: N/A
Bad Losses: @ Nevada
Quality Wins: N/A
Bad Losses: N/A
Quality Wins: @ TCU
Bad Losses: Wake Forest
Good Wins: N/A
Bad Losses: South Carolina
Looking over the résumés, it appears that Washington, Oklahoma State, and Nebraska are all pretty even at this point, while Clemson is a few steps behind. I am big on strength of schedule so if I had to fill one spot with any of those three teams, I would go with Washington. The Cornhuskers do have a nice win at TCU, but a home loss against a terrible Wake Forest team cancels that out. The Cowboys boast a nice record and a mediocre RPI, but with no quality wins and an SOS that is far behind Washington’s, I don’t feel good putting them in the field.
What we have not yet mentioned was the great game that took place on Saturday between Duke and the Huskies. It took Washington 15 minutes into the second half to FINALLY make some baskets, but they grouped that with great defense and some poor Blue Devil shooting to cut a deficit that was as big as 19 in the second half all the way down to three with a minute left. Unfortunately for Washington, Duke eventually found their touch at the line in the final minute, and the only time they would get back within six was on a Terrence Ross three as time expired. Read the rest of this entry »
It was another wild weekend in the Pac-12, with some disciplinary action, upset losses and low-scoring slugfests. But let’s jump in with some good news: contrary to recent history, Oregon actually gained a player over the weekend. Minnesota transfer Devoe Joseph played his first game for the Ducks on Saturday and led his team in scoring with 18 points in his debut. He came off the bench but played the most minutes on the team and was their most effective offensive weapon. He wrapped back-to-back three-pointers around an E.J. Singler block to get the Matt Court crowd jumping and also handed out a key assist to Singler as the shot clock expired in a close game down the stretch. Head coach Dana Altman has had a rough time with personnel matters in the first month of the season, but the arrival of Joseph gives Duck fans reason for optimism.
Not all was rosy in the state of Oregon this weekend, however, as the bad Beavers returned at Oregon State. On the heels of an on-campus tragedy on Wednesday, the basketball team came out flat Friday night against Idaho and trailed almost from start to finish. They allowed the Vandals to shoot a 60.4 eFG% (shooting just 35.8% themselves) and were never closer than ten in the second half. Head coach Craig Robinson didn’t want to tie any of the team’s poor performance to the tragedy, but we’ll give the Beavers a pass on this one. Another poor performance in their upcoming games against Illinois-Chicago, Howard or Portland State, though, and OSU’s squad officially goes on red alert.
Back to some good news, as Arizona bounced back from its loss to Florida with an easy win over Clemson on Saturday. Freshman point guard Josiah Turner was reinstated following his one-game suspension after a missed practice, but it was fellow frosh Nick Johnson who led the way, scoring 14 points and throwing down some massivedunks. With Turner’s game improving by the game and freshman big man Angelo Chol beginning to contribute, these Arizona freshmen are about ready to bust out.
Back to the bad news, and it was a lot of bad news for Washington this weekend. Not only did it lose its third straight game, this time to Duke at Madison Square Garden on Saturday morning, but they lost junior center Aziz N’Diaye to a sprained knee early in the second half of that game. He did not return and no prognosis has been given for his future status. This came on the heels of the announcement Friday that senior guard Scott Suggs, who had foot surgery prior to the season, would be taking a redshirt year this season. If there is any good news out of the weekend, it is that the four-guard attack the Huskies used after the N’Diaye injury was effective, and Tony Wroten, in particular, played the best basketball of his young career. UW has a history of starting slowly for Lorenzo Romar, but the smart money is on this team becoming a tough out come March.
In Berkeley, it was supposed to be forward Richard Solomon’s return from his own indefinite suspension. And while Solomon played in California’s 73-46 win over Jackson State, he and his roommate Allen Crabbe got the day started off on the wrong foot when they both overslept and were ten minutes late to the team’s morning shootaround. While Solomon was going to come off of the bench anyway, Crabbe was punished for his transgression by being benched to start the game, although he did wind up playing 27 minutes and leading all scorers with17 points. Jorge Gutierrez racked up a career-high 10 assists to go with seven points and seven rebounds.
Aside from Nevada‘s wins over Washington and Arizona State, it was a tough week for the WAC. New Mexico State fell to Arizona 83-76 then at Southern Miss 74-66 and Utah State lost to Denver 67-54 ending their 33-game home winning streak in the process then lost at Pacific 65-57 and Louisiana Tech lost to Southeastern Louisiana 72-69 in overtime. The WAC’s wins were against the likes of UTSA (future WAC member), Academy of Art University, UC Davis, UL-Monroe, Utah Valley and Northwestern State… oh and a win against a truly abysmal Utah Utes team by Fresno State.
1. Nevada (6-3): The Wolf Pack notched the WAC’s most impressive victory of the season to date knocking off Washington 76-73 in overtime. Deonte Burton looked very much like a WAC Player of the Year candidate finishing with a stat-sheet-stuffing 31 points on 9-18 shooting, 4-6 from three, 9-14 from the free throw line with six assists and six rebounds. If Burton plays like the rest of the year, the Wolf Pack may very well fulfill the lofty preseason expectations. Since losing their first two games of the season the Wolf Pack have reeled off six wins in their last seven games with the only loss coming against BYU. The reserves contributed just eight points in the OT win over the Huskies. The question still remains for Nevada as to whether their bench can score on nights when the shots aren’t falling for the starters.
2. New Mexico State (5-3): The Aggies have fallen on tough times as of late and their road weariness may have caught up to them. After starting the season out 4-0, the Aggies have dropped three of their last four including a pair to Southern Miss. The Aggies’ early season successes were due in large part to their propensity for sharing the ball (63 assists through four games), rebounding (175 through four games), and getting to the charity stripe (167 attempts through four games). However, the last four games have seen a significant decrease (43 assists, 136 rebounds, 103 free throws attempts– 44 of which came in one game). It should be noted that the Aggies have played at home just twice through their first eight games with trips taking them from Greeley, CO to Anchorage, Alaska to Hattiesburg, MS, but frequent flier miles aside, the Aggies simply haven’t been as effective in those three areas as they had in the first four games and until they get back to dominating those statistics, their struggles may very well continue.
Deonte Burton Is A One-Man Wrecking Crew For The Surging Wolf Pack, Winners Of Six Straight. (Seattle Times)
3. Idaho (4-4): The Vandals continue to be steady winning games that they should and not losing games that they shouldn’t. It has accounted for a 4-3 record thus far. Four different players have led them in scoring but it has been the arrival of sophomore forward Stephen Madison that has been the pleasant surprise for the Vandals. Madison is averaging 12.0 points and 4.6 rebounds per game and is 11-24 from three point distance (45.8 percent) and has been a nice complement to Deremy Geiger (14.6 PPG) and Kyle Barone (13.3 PPG, 8.3 RPG) after seeing action in all 32 games last season, but averaging a modest 11.6 minutes while contributing 3.7 points and just 2.0 rebounds per game. One area the Vandals need to seriously improve in is at the charity stripe. They are a dismal 63.2% with only Deremy Geiger shooting it well (80%). Nobody else on the team is better than 68%.
Here’s a look at the power rankings that Drew and I have compiled after the fourth week of Pac-12 games. Here we go!
1. Stanford, 8-1: You couldn’t have asked for a better week if you’re a Cardinal fan. Stanford won the three games they played in by a combined 67 points, which included a dominating performance on the road against Seattle and a résumé building win against NC State. They now have a great chance of finishing non-conference play 11-1, but they will have to get past a talented Butler team in order to achieve that. Stanford now will take a 13-day break for finals and some extra rest. Up Next: 12.17 vs. San Diego
Guard Aaron Bright leads the cheers on the Stanford sideline. (credit: Bob Drebin)
2. Oregon State, 6-1: The Beavers only played one game this week and they waited until Sunday to do it. However, the wait was worth it, as the Beavers dominated Montana, 71-46. Just to show you how far OSU has come in a year, Montana defeated Oregon State by five in last December’s meeting. Up Next: 12.9 vs. Idaho
3. Arizona, 6-2: Two mid-majors, two wins for the Wildcats. They started off the week on Tuesday with a closer-than-comfort win over New Mexico State, then closed out the week with a 14-point win over in-state rival Northern Arizona. The Wildcats will now begin a brutal four-game stretch that includes opponents like Florida, Gonzaga, and Oakland. Up Next: 12.7 @ Florida
4. California, 6-2: It wasn’t a terrible week for California, but it could have been a lot better. After destroying McNeese State to open up the week, the Golden Bears lost a heartbreaker at San Diego State yesterday. It would have been an instant classic, but San Diego State would eventually outlast the Bears, 64-63. Up Next: 12.7 vs. San Jose State
5. Oregon, 4-2:The Ducks had a rough week despite their 1-1 record. Their win over UTEP was only by five points, and contrary to what CSN announcer Jordan Kent said after the game, any win is not necessarily a good win in the eyes of the selection committee. Oregon had a chance to make up for the bad game with an upset of BYU in Salt Lake City, but the Ducks went ice cold in the second half and fell, 79-65. Up Next: 12.10 vs. Fresno State
6. Washington, 4-2: It’s time to panic in Seattle. A 13-point loss at Saint Louis is one thing, but no matter how young and inexperienced a team is, you can’t lose to Nevada. It will most likely just get worse before it gets better for Washington, as the Huskies face Marquette, Duke, and UC Santa Barbara in their next three games. Up Next: 12.6 vs. Marquette in New York City Read the rest of this entry »
It’s been a relatively disappointing start to the season for WAC teams. Outside of New Mexico State‘s win over in-state rival New Mexico and Utah State‘s win over BYU, the league has fallen flat in the early going. The USU win over BYU was tempered by losses at Weber State and a horrendous loss to Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. Preseason favorite Nevada has also struggled with closer-than-expected wins over Prairie View A&M and Longwood. On the bright side, the league has protected home court with the eight teams combining for a 14-2 home record.
Christian Kabongo And The Aggies Are Looking Impressive In An Otherwise Middling WAC. (Credit: NMStateSports.com)
1. New Mexico State (5-1): The question mark surrounding the Aggies entering the season was two-fold. First, would they be able to find scoring after losing leading scorer Troy Gillenwater and second, would the team commit itself on the defensive end? They’ve answered both with a ‘Yes’. The Aggies have topped the 80-point mark three times this season but have also shown the ability to lock down a team on the defensive end holding in-state rival New Mexico to their worst offensive performance under head coach Steve Alford (53 points on just 28% shooting) and Central Michigan to just 49 points. The Aggies finished third in the Great Alaska Shootout by dismantling Central Michigan before losing to Southern Mississippi in the semifinals. The Aggies bounced back with a come-from-behind win over San Francisco. The Aggies have been getting to the free throw line at an alarming rate (at least for their opponents), a whopping 36% of their points are coming from the free throw line and the team shot an eye-popping 131 free throws in three days in Alaska.
2. Idaho (3-2): The Vandals find themselves at number two on the power rankings not as much for their wins but for their losses. Of the teams below them, they have the least egregious losses of the bunch. Their two losses on the season have both come on the road– one at Long Beach State (who beat then #4 Pitt on the road) and at Montana. The Vandals are hitting nearly 50% of their shots from the field this season but need to do a better job at the charity stripe where they’re hitting just 63.3% for the season.
3. Utah State (3-2): Utah State has faced a trio on in-state opponents, beating BYU and Southern Utah but losing at Weber State. Senior point Brockeith Pane leads the Aggies in scoring at 15.3 points a game followed by Morgan Grim at 11.7 and Preston Medlin with 11.0 per game. It’s obviously early and they are replacing four starters, but Utah State is at an uncharacteristic 29% from three-point range and a paltry 60% at the foul line. USU also has just 25 assists to date. Those numbers will rise as the newcomers blend in and roles are earned. The biggest concern in the immediate term is finding production in the absence of forward Brady Jardine, who is out 2-4 weeks with a foot injury. The Aggies clearly missed his presence in the close win over Southern Utah and a stunning loss on the road at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.
4. Nevada (4-3): One thing has become clear after seven games: if the Wolf Pack starters aren’t scoring, the Wolf Pack won’t win. Nevada hasn’t had much help from its bench this season. The Wolf Pack starting five is accounting for nearly 80% of the team’s offensive production and if you can hold those five in check, chances are you’re coming out with a ‘W’. The Wolf Pack absolutely have to find some help for their starters or they run the risk of having a dead tired group of starters by the middle of conference play. A concern for Wolf Pack fans should be that two of their wins, Prairie View A&M and Longwood, have come by 13 and two points, respectively. Those are two teams who are usually scheduled for easy wins.
5. Hawaii (2-2): Hawaii handily beat Northridge, but reversed course by getting blown out by Gonzaga and was manhandled at home by Eastern Washington. Three Rainbow Warriors are averaging in double figures with Zane Johnson‘s 17.8 points per game at the expected head of the pack, freshman point Shaquille Stokes is second with 11.8 a contest, and sophomore Trevor Wiseman surprising checking in 11 points each time out. The biggest surprise? Sophomore point Bobby Miles has started three of four games, is averaging 28.5 minutes of action, and has compiled a 1.8 assist-to-turnover ratio. Hawaii’s defensive effort is strong so far, holding opponents to 39% shooting overall and just 27.3% from long distance. One key-to-the-season-component, mercurial power forward Joston Thomas is averaging just 13.8 minutes a game. He could become a big help to Coach Gib Arnold or blow out, there appears to be no middle ground for him.
6. Fresno State (2-4): There’s not necessarily any rhyme and/or reason early in the season as the Bulldogs have handled Illinois State and SMU but fallen to Manhattan, Stanford, Texas San-Antonio, and North Dakota State. It’s been the Kevin Olaikabe show to date as the sophomore is averaging 21.3 points per game with Jonathan Wills as the only other teammate in double figures at 11.3 points per game. JC transfer Kevin Foster is the best big man that coach Rodney Terry has, but he has been and is putting up just 7.0 points (on 32% shooting) and 4.7 rebounds per game. Senior point Steve Shepp is usually among the best in the conference in assist-to-turnover ratio but stands at 1.4 right now. However, some of that may be due to Fresno State shooting just 38.6% as a team.
7. Louisiana Tech (2-3): It’s been a bit of a rough start for first year head coach Michael White as his team has a couple of wins early in the season against less than stellar competition. Despite running an up-tempo offense, the Bulldogs haven’t been able to score many points averaging just 66.4 points per game and they are a terrible free throw shooting team hitting just 57.1% on the season, 342nd out of 344 teams. One positive for the Bulldogs has been their perimeter defense which is allowing just 15.9% from behind the arc, tops in the country. They’re also forcing 19 turnovers per game, ranking 21st in the country in that category. The Bulldogs need to score a few more points to help out their efforts on the defensive end.
8. San Jose State (2-3): The Spartans have been involved in close games and blowouts so far with a 27-point loss to Cal Poly, a one-point win versus Irvine, a two-point loss to USF, and a 26-point defeat to crosstown rival Santa Clara. Sophomore guard Keith Shamburger tops the team with 15.0 points per game followed by JC newcomer Jay Kinney‘s 12.6 points per game average. Will Carter has been steady averaging 10.2 points and 8.4 rebounds per game. However, outside of Carter, rebounding has been an issue as the Spartans own a -9.6 rebounding differential.
There are a few marquee matchups on the slate for the WAC. New Mexico State plays host to Arizona and then ventures on the road to take on Southern Mississippi in a rematch of their semifinal game at the Great Alaska Shootout that was won by the Eagles. Nevada also hosts Washington later in the week. The WAC desperately needs more quality wins and 3-0 or 2-1 against this trio would qualify as a good week.
Utah State Looks To Maintain Dynasty: Will someone finally break Utah State’s stranglehold on the league? The northern Aggies have won at least a share of the regular season conference title four straight seasons but return only two key players from last year’s championship squad, point guard Brockeith Pane (the only starter) and forward Brady Jardine. Nevada, New Mexico State and Hawai’i all have a legitimate shot at dethroning the Aggies. Will one of them finally step up and do it?
Can Stew Morrill's Aggies Keep Their Grip on the WAC Another Season?
It’s The End of the WAC As We Know It: Boise State has already transitioned to the Mountain West, and Fresno State and Nevada will join the MWC as well next season. On top of that, Hawai’i is headed for the more travel-friendly confines of the Big West. The WAC will welcome Denver, Seattle, UT-San Antonio, UT-Arlington and Texas State in the 2012-13 season, not exactly an equal trade in terms of prestige and history. Can the WAC make some noise nationally before it slinks into relative obscurity next season? It’s up to New Mexico State, Utah State, Nevada and Hawai’i to make it happen.
New Faces: Once again, the WAC welcomes some new coaches to the league. By all accounts, Fresno State and Louisiana Tech landed themselves a pair of good ones when they hired Rodney Terry and Michael White, respectively. Like the past hires at Idaho, New Mexico State, Nevada and Hawai’i, neither of them have any previous head coaching experience, but the hires were praised on a national level. Terry spent the past several seasons as an assistant coach at Texas while White, the son of Duke Athletic Director Kevin White, spent the past seven seasons as an assistant on the Ole Miss coaching staff. White is a youngster at just 34 years of age but finding that new hot coach seems to be the trend these days (Brad Stevens at Butler and Shaka Smart at VCU being the two prominent examples).
With the completion of the NBA Draft and the annual coaching and transfer carousels nearing their ends, RTC is rolling out a new series, RTC Summer Updates, to give you a crash course on each Division I conference during the summer months. Our newest update comes courtesy of our WAC correspondents, Sam Wasson of Bleed Crimsonand Kevin McCarthy of Parsing The WAC.
Revolving Door. The revolving door in the WAC consists of schools, coaches and players. Last summer, it was the defection of four schools to the Mountain West and the addition of three schools (Denver, TexasState and UT-San Antonio). This summer, there are no more defections (thankfully) but there have been additions. SeattleUniversity will join the WAC for basketball starting in the 2012-13 season and the latest development has UT-Arlington joining their old Southland Conference brethren, Texas State and UT-San Antonio, in the WAC for the 2012-13 season. While it’s still one full season away, the signs are pointing to an eventual East/West split of the WAC. A pair of hopefuls in Utah Valley and Cal State-Bakersfield could bring the basketball league to 12 teams, but whether that comes to fruition remains to be seen.
Early Entries. On the personnel front, the WAC once again saw several underclassmen declare for the NBA Draft, but unlike last season, which saw four get drafted, none of the 2011 early entries were selected. New Mexico State scoring leader Troy Gillenwater was one of those who opted to enter early but he withdrew his name from the draft. However, he will not be returning to New Mexico State after hiring an agent and will likely seek out options in either the NBDL or overseas. Greg Smith from FresnoState opted to leave the Bulldogs after just two seasons but the 6’9″, 250-pound center did not hear his name called. One other big name is no longer with his team and that is Louisiana Tech‘s OluAshaolu who has transferred to the University of Oregon. Ashaolu averaged 14.2 points and 9.4 rebounds per game last season for the injury and suspension-depleted Bulldogs and was one of the conference’s top talents. Ashaolu will be eligible immediately for the Ducks as he earned his undergraduate degree from LA Tech and because Oregon offers a graduate program not available there.
Coaching Carousel. For coaching changes, it was a busy offseason for a few teams as Fresno State and Louisiana Tech both opted for a fresh start, hiring new head coaches. Both schools drew high praise for their hires. The Fresno State Bulldogs lured Texas assistant RodneyTerry to Fresno while their namesake counterparts in Louisiana, the LA Tech Bulldogs, hired Ole Miss assistant Michael White. At just 34 years old, White is one of the youngest head coaches in the country joining familiar names Josh Pastner (Memphis) and Brad Stevens (Butler) at that age. New Mexico State also saw some major turnover in their staff as the Aggies lost a pair of assistants in MickDurham, who took the head men’s basketball position at Division II Alaska-Fairbanks, and assistant GeraldLewis, who returned to his alma mater, SMU, as the Director of Basketball Operations. The Aggies filled one of the two assistant positions by hiring former Kentucky standout Tony Delk who spent the past two seasons at his alma mater alongside John Calipari and staff in a non-coaching role. Delk figures to have an immediate impact on recruiting, having played in the NBA and also owning a national championship ring while with the Wildcats.
The Dee Glen Smith Spectrum will have to rock even harder than usual in 2011-12 after Utah State lost several contributors from its sterling campaign last season.
The MAAC conference tournament gave us another buzzer-beater last night. Saint Peter’s guard Desi Washington rushed down the court and nailed a trey to eliminate Fairfield 65-62 on Washington’s THIRD game-winning buzzer-beater against the Stags this season.
Clown, thy name is UCSB fan. Although players and coaches alike are expected to behave professionally, fans also have a responsibility to contain themselves. Incidents like last night’s approach by a rabid UCSB fan are dangerous for everyone involved.